Transparency or TMI? Part 2


In my last post, I shared a big online visibility tip about you and how much YOU gets in the public eye.

It’s a fine line- how much do you share, how much do you  keep private?

The last post gave us a nice list of what NOT to do, and when you read that post be sure to drop in your comments of what to avoid.

Now let’s celebrate the people who are doing it right. Being real, being themselves, and leading the way. And in that spirit, I bring you the “Do’s” of Transparency in your online visibility. You may agree or disagree, but click on each link so you can see it all in context.

The Transparency “Do” List

I found a common theme in the people I wanted to profile for transparency done well: Turn your crisis into something we can relate to and learn from.

Here are 3 that stand out:

  • Alexis Neely’s Breakup with Dave Dee- I send big kudos to this couple for weathering the feelings of very publicly announcing that their life and business partnership would be no more. Read Alexis’ account here. It’s a lesson in emotional maturity and knowing how to turn a crisis into a lesson in transparency.
  • Elizabeth Potts Weinstein and Gracie- Blogger Elizabeth PW found out in July that her little girl had a brain tumor. Gulp. Oh, and she’s a single mom, had just moved, and had a business to run. Not an easy time. What Elizabeth did with this was beautiful and in the transparency hall of fame: she called upon friends to blog for her in her absence, then came back and used this as a series of life lessons for her followers to learn from.  Start with this post then move all through July 2010 to August and beyond to witness transparency in action.
  • MaryPat Kavanagh and The BreakUp MaryPat Kavanagh , The Queen of Connections, is a good friend of mine. On Day 3 of my event I Heart My Biz she told me she had a huge breakthrough. I figured it would be about branding or marketing. “I need to divorce my husband, and now isn’t the right time to tell you this because you’re hosting an event so we’ll catch up later.” Whoa!! Total hit and run info, but how and why and where I wanted to know. Recently she sent out an email to her list. At the beginning she opened up and revealed that she was divorcing her husband. I was nervous for her while reading it, but I kept thinking “Damn, she’s brave!”  She walked through the fear and did it. It wasn’t woe-is-me, although it wasn’t as rosy as Alexis and Dave. Because her target market are women entrepreneurs who deal with way more than their businesses, it was a good fit. In the eyes of her ideal clients, MaryPat’s stock went way up after sending that message.

Being nice and saying hello to people isn’t transparency; that’s just good manners. Real transparency is when you’re brave enough to show yourself during vulnerable moments and tie it into something beneficial for all. It’s not self absorption, it’s not narcissism- it’s being human.

So what do you think? Do the people on the “Do” list exemplify transparency done well? Or do you have something to add? I’d love your comments.


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  • SunshineDaisy

    So what do you think about Alexis Martin Neely's new "truth" about getting married at Burning Man after just breaking up with Dave – TMI? Beneficial to her business? I personally think she sounds like she is off her rocker, and there is more to the story of the perfect break up. If it was so perfect and harmonius why doesn't Dave have social media profiles anymore?I agree Elizabeth PW and Mary Pat have been authentic and have shared their stories openly and built even more of a loving community around themselves because of it. But Alexis Martin Neely "Feingold" – I think that is a very poor example, her story changes from day to day on her blog.

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Whoa! I must have been sleeping while the world kept turning. I had no idea
      she got married. But I'll say this, married or not, she handled her breakup
      very well in the public eye. I have no comment on what is happening now. Let
      me say this again: "Whoa!"

    • AlexisDoubter

      People who have little substance need to change their story day-to-day to stay ahead of folks figuring out that it's all smoke and mirrors. The pattern is easy to spot – as soon as these folks get their stories called out, the reverse blame game machine fires up ("Why can't you just believe in love? Love, people, love." – which really means, "Stop asking the hard questions you and I both know I can't answer.").Given Alexis' antics lately, I can't understand how the lawyers in her program stick around, or how anyone takes her seriously as a lawyer herself. I suppose that doesn't much matter given that she'll be humming into a didgeridoo for the foreseeable future.I don't know the other two women – they seem just fine to me.

      • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

        So let's look at this a couple ways, OK? Separate out your judgment of her actions on the moral level and put this back into the context of business. Transparency is a way to create connection or disconnection. What we're learning from your comments as well as Sunshine's is that transparency can also filter out the non-fans. In other words, it can be a way to build bridges or to build walls. There are many marketers who espouse the idea of polarization- get people to either love you or hate you and you'll end up with a more loyal list, following etc.The down side is you also invite in the critics. Whether or not any of us agree or disagree on the moral implications of all this, it has galvanized her loyal fans. Go look at the comments on her blog- 99.9% positive, favorable, and congratulatory. Of course maybe people don't want to say something out loud and be identified as the critics for fear that might bite them in the butt later on. That's another blog post in and of itself – kiss ass blog comments or being for real. I'd rather we keep the personal judgments aside and mind our own morals instead of policing others. Find the lessons here and apply them to your business in the way that works for you.thanks,Nancy

        • shannoncherry

          But Nancy,Isn't being transparent also about sharing your judgments – personal or otherwise? Just a thought to add to the mix?

          • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

            That's true, Shannon. But an opinion hidden behind a pseudonym isn't that
            transparent. Feels more like a drive-by opinion than an true opportunity to
            engage.

  • Meredith

    Love this Nancy. Thanks for these great examples. I really appreciate these 2 posts. You are truly gifted at responding to and sharing what is current and bringing out what others are noodling or thinking about in the back of their minds. You are a gift!

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Thanks Meredith!
      And keep reading the comments because the plot is thickening on one of my
      "good" transparency examples!

  • leah_DefytheBox

    I think the point of transparency is to choose what you share in your biz…and make it apply to your message and brand. You can use transparency to choose what faults your audience see's and make it part of your brand. you can also use it to make you seem more human and quirky. Or to let your people know that you get them and have the same challenges. It think it should be used intentionally. Don't drink a bunch of tequila and then start blabbing to your list about how your about to go bankrupt.

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Good advice! Thanks for adding to the discussion and yes, drunk babbling isn't the way to go. :-)

      I like the way you frame this- thoughtful + relevant transparency is what fosters connection.

  • http://www.queenofmarketing.com MaryPat

    I feel honored to be included in your post about the right way to do things Nancy. (although I am still a bit "wierded out" by my acknowledgement). I had to share my relationship truth because I felt like I was pretending everything was ok and this summer was a bit rough. While I feel like I have been through the worst of it, I couldn't go into another interview and pretending life was rosey! My life is very different today than it was 3 months ago and I needed to share that. So there you have it!

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      You're doing a great job MaryPat! Keep telling your story, its inspiring to many.

  • http://www.queenofmarketing.com MaryPat

    I feel honored to be included in this post–even though I still feel very weird about it. In fact, it took me a week to even look at the email responses I received!I hung with baited breath this summer while I witnessed Elizabeth's friends step up and keep things running for her while life with Gracie moved forward and clearly, business was NOT a priority at that moment (how could it be?). My heart also skipped a few beats when I got wind of Alexis's break-up (as for the Burning Man wedding….huh????). But my "truth" was shared because I couldn't be interviewed and pretend everything was just fine when it wasn't. The truth for me was that my team held things together while I couldn't. And that was my message.

  • Melanie Benson Stric

    Nancy, I love your post. I personally find it a very hard "dance" between transparency and TMI. Earlier this year I shared a very heart-felt blog post about my big a-ha's in 2009 (one of which was meeting the love of my life) only to find out 3 weeks later that he was leaving me. Now what? I shared that I was experiencing a major release of someone on my life and it was hard. I recently shared from stage at an event of many of my personal business challenges over the last year and I can't tell you how many people said "thank you" for being real.I end up feeling naked, scared and quite honestly afraid of what people will think. But in the end, I think being authentic without being in your face is what makes others feel that they are not alone.Thanks for being a catalyst for authenticity….and helping us all feel where the line is. =-)

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Mel, you just touched my heart. Thank you so much for sharing that. It really rounds out who you are as a person + I bet you're finding yourself surrounded by better and better supporters each day.

      That naked, vulnerable feeling is so awful but so freeing. You're doing it right.
      ;-)

    • http://VisionForSuccess.biz Ali R. Rodriguez

      It takes big ones to tell it like it is, especially in the middle of fright, insecurity, nervousness and doubt. Good for you, Mel. That's what I call "born to inspire"!

  • http://www.thehiredpen.biz Lisbeth Tanz

    Nancy, I love these two posts because you're giving us permission to break down the walls (just a bit) between our business selves and our personal selves. I think if I'd been blogging in 2008, I probably would have shared a bit of my life as I moved through my divorce. But you're right – how much is too much? Honestly, if I write something that I have two think twice about, that's too much and I rewrite. I do like being a human being to my readers, though. No one lives the perfect life.

  • Shawn Driscoll

    Hey Nancy, great discussion here. I also thing transparency is a personal style issue. Some people process 'out loud' while others process 'slowly and internally'. I think what and how you share is personal preference, and highly dependent on your list and what they come to you for.As you know I've had a hard year (or six, but who's counting!) with my Mom's stroke and the aftermath, among many other challenges I won't list. I am far less "transparent" than others who seem to 'lifecast' every step of the way. I need my own time to process and get perspective and for me…that takes private time. I'm not trying to hide or play 'everything's rosy' but at the same time I think my private sadness and struggle is private –and I don't want to broadcast my every thought and emotion, nor frankly do I find it interesting to read other's moment by moment posts. Sharing lessons learned and insights put into perspective works and creates connection. Sharing blow by blow…seems too 'reality tv' for my taste.

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Shawn, what you shared about your mom and how you dealt with that was such a
      huge touchpoint for all of us who love you and follow your work. You brought
      it in in a very natural way- you weren't looking for a martyr badge and you
      weren't using it for anything other than explaining what was happening with
      you. You did it in a way that worked for you and it NEVER created a
      distraction. I am so glad you left this comment because I know how much you
      value your privacy. Thank you!!!

  • http://twitter.com/RussellFeingold Russell Feingold

    Nancy, I so appreciate you including me in your post about transparency. I spent a lot of my life hiding and not being my most authentic self in fear of receiving the types of comments you've seen here from @sunshinedaisy and @alexisdoubter. I'm done with that. Yes, sometimes the things I do will result in me seeming like I'm off my rocker and absolutely I have fear that as a result of me being fully authentically who I am people won't take me seriously. AND I am no longer willing for those fears to stop me from being all of who I am without shame. I think it's fascinating that neither @SunshineDaisy or @AlexisDoubter have chosen to use their real names here in their comments on a post about transparency. What are you two hiding from? And that @AlexisDoubter is talking about a blame game and smoke and mirrors and lack of substance. Lawyers utilize my programs because they work. I built a million dollar law firm in just three years. My clients (lawyers and entrepreneurs) experience tremendous success regardless of who I marry, when and why. That's why they join my programs and take me seriously. Because they are full of substance.There's no blame or smoke and mirrors here – I'm telling it all like it is and don't blame anyone for anything. I love my life and I'm grateful to share it with the world.Regarding why Dave does not have social media profiles anymore … he signed on to his Facebook account only to see Russell's post about our relationship. That was painful for him. And, he isn't a fan of social media anyway – he used it because I liked it, but it was never really his kind of thing. So, he closed his profiles.@sunshinedaisy and @alexisdoubter I send both of you all the resolve, love and healing you desire in life.

  • alexisneely

    Nancy, I so appreciate you including me in your post about transparency. I spent a lot of my life hiding and not being my most authentic self in fear of receiving the types of comments you've seen here from @sunshinedaisy and @alexisdoubter. I'm done with that.Yes, sometimes the things I do will result in me seeming like I'm "off my rocker" and absolutely I have fear that as a result of me being fully authentically who I am people won't take me seriously. AND I am no longer willing for those fears to stop me from being all of who I am without shame.I think it's fascinating that neither @SunshineDaisy or @AlexisDoubter have chosen to use their real names here in their comments on a post about transparency. What are you two hiding from?And that @AlexisDoubter is talking about a blame game and smoke and mirrors and lack of substance.Lawyers utilize my programs because they work. I built a million dollar law firm in just three years. My clients (lawyers and entrepreneurs) experience tremendous success regardless of who I marry, when and why. That's why they join my programs and take me seriously. Because they are full of substance.There's no blame or smoke and mirrors here – I'm telling it all like it is and don't blame anyone for anything. I love my life and I'm grateful to share it with the world.Regarding why Dave does not have social media profiles anymore … he signed on to his Facebook account only to see Russell's post about our relationship. That was painful for him. And, he isn't a fan of social media anyway – he used it because I liked it, but it was never really his kind of thing. So, he closed his profiles. @sunshinedaisy and @alexisdoubter I send both of you all the resolve, love and healing you desire in life. Great discussion Nancy, thanks.Alexis

  • http://www.artbykd.com Kathryn DeBra

    Thanks for these articles Nancy. Over the years I have seen a range of transparency vs TMI. Sometimes, even though the transparency has been authentic and intentioned to be of service to readers/clients, I have found it to be TMI for me, or irritating, or uncomfortable. Now I know to ask why I feel uncomfortable, and look for the mirror. It's all in how it's done, as mentioned in your articles and other comments. At first I thought this was just another marketing trend, a way to stand out and clarify one's brand or offerings. But after hearing from my Dad the other day that this trend is also present in scientist's bios in all fields (he's a top-level scientific researcher and engineering professor,) it gave me pause. Is it a natural effect of internet marketing, social media and the massive amount of information-sharing on the internet? Since we have so much virtual contact with people now, is it just the basic human need to connect and get acquainted? Is it just a marketing trend? Or is it the future, part of the changing energy on the planet, part of us becoming more heart-centered beings? Thanks for opening up such a huge conversation for me!

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Kathryn, I'd say all of the above. The disconnect that technology creates in
      turn creates a yearning to connect. How about that for a tail chaser! (Ever
      notice how people will be rude to someone standing next to them because they
      are too busy "connecting" with their Twitter followers or answering a text?
      )

      This opens up a good avenue to debate "Selective transparency" and how much
      we really need to know. Some "transparency" is actually quite staged, so how
      do we really know what's truth, what's exhibitionism, what's authentic?

      Thank you so much for this comment and for the honesty and thought you put
      into it!

      Nancy

  • Janet Beckers

    Nancy I love your writing. You're a woman after my own heart. I see the tendency for more openness online a natural flow on from the changes social media has brought to internet business. It is so much easier for people to get to know the person behind a business that we can feel duped if we aren't allowed in a bit more. If you manage this well it can act as a catalyst for the growth of a wonderful community online around your business. Do it poorly and it will spread like wild-fire in the wrong direction."Reframed Vulnerability" is incredibly powerful and also a very ethical way to communicate. It allows people in your online community to learn through your own challenges without burdening them with the feeling they need to support you through it. In fact, you can turn it around in a way so they benefit which is real leadership.I so admire people who do this well and know from my own experience that it takes guts to share your challenges but you are rewarded with real loyalty when you do.

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Beautifully said Janet. Thank you for the "reframed vulnerabilty" phrase. Love that!

  • Sanyika

    Whoa Nancy…Talk about being "under a rock" or "sleeping while the world was turning" I just got the news of Alexis' breakup and subsequent marriage – today – all in one day! I purposely pulled away from SM this year as I retool, refocus and redefine what my life and purpose on the planet are. I thought many times about posting the "good, bad, and not so pretty" parts of the evolution of my being, but chose to wait until I really understand the lessons clearly first.I love all the responses that this post has received from many of the women that I follow and admire on and offline. The irony and paradox of your insights is not lost on me…"The disconnect that technology creates in turn creates a yearning to connect. How about that for a tail chaser! (Ever notice how people will be rude to someone standing next to them because they are too busy "connecting" with their Twitter followers or answering a text?)"Kudos to you for not only posting a fantastic question and offering your observations on 3 super-fab biz owners, but also for facilitating the discussions between those who felt the urge to respond.Your post has given me clarity, compassion and some common sense food for thought as I walk though my valleys to reach the mountains top. Now that I've FINALLY embraced that I am called to be a "Shepherdess" and I compassionately coach, gently guide and divinely direct the people that God sends my way to be the leaders they're called to be!What I know for sure is my evolution will be televised…I'm having fun mixed with crazy fear as I craft the pieces and parts I want to share with the world. Two quotes come to mind…"Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not allow anything to control me." – Apostle Paul; 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ISV)"If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances." -Julia SoulHere's to living out loud! :-)Sanyika

    • http://www.VivaVisibilityBlog.com NancyMarmolejo

      Welcome back to the world Sanyika!!!You take a little nap and look what happens: marriages, breakups, who knows what next. Not that any of that is important, because it does have a good deal of soap opera to it (the drama stuff, not you taking a nap)You just came out and revealed a whole lot sweetie, and for that I'm grateful. You know that we're all here to support you on that beautiful God-led mission of yours. And TV is soooooo you, you already know that.:-) happy happy happy you stopped by.